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PSS - 3rd Exhibition

December 1858


A New Home for the Exhibition

For its 3rd Exhibition, PSS moved to DR Hay’s Art Saloon, 90 George Street, a room which the Chairman described as large and well lighted.

The exhibition opened on 18 December 1858 with a with a Private View by invitation the previous evening.  It  remained open until12 February 1859. 

Admission Charges

Admission charges were the same as for the 2nd PSS Exhibition:

-  10am to 5pm @ 1/-    

-  7pm to 9pm @ 6d or 3 for 1/-

-  Season tickets 2/6d


Entries from photographers based in Scotland included:

- Archibald Burns:

10 stereograms from negatives by Fothergill's Process.

10 more stereo views.  I don't know whether or not these used Fothergill's Process.

- G&D Hay, John Moffat, Truefitt Bros: all Edinburgh professional photographers:

-  George Washington Wilson

Thomas Annan portraits



A vote of PSS members determined who would be awarded the Medals for the 3rd PSS Exhibition. The first Medal was to be awarded to a PSS Member and the second to photographers generally.  In each case, there was a clear winner.  They were:

                             -   Rev T M Raven

                             -   Lyndon Smith

Photographs from a single negative?

Lyndon Smith felt flattered at receiving the medal, but annoyed that others regarded his work as having been doctored.  He wrote:

"I beg to assure you most decidedly that my pictures are, each one without exception from a single negative, and that the foregrounds and foliage are not painted in, either in the negative or in the print.

In case of any further dispute, I will with pleasure forward you any of the negatives, though I do not wish to run the risk of breakage in carriage without some urgent necessity.

With regard to the Rising Mist a more perfect and faithful transcript of the veritable scene and effect of nature was never produced  -  excuse my egotism, it is not myself but the art I am extolling  unfortunately. 

Though the negative still exists its glory has departed for it has split up in all directions owing  to its having been varnished with bad varnish ..."  
[Letter:  Lyndon Smith, Leeds:  28 June 1859]

"I never saw half a dozen photographs yet that did not require touching - I mean that had not some small “comet” or star or spot which required blotting out.
Again, I repeat the picture "Rising Mist" did not receive it at all, except so far as I have already stated in any former letter. …"

 [Letter:  Lyndon Smith, Leeds:  undated]

One of the critics of Lyndon Smith's work was George Washington Wilson of Aberdeen.  He called for PSS to give clearer guidance for future exhibitions:


Lyndon Smith felt flattered at receiving the medal, but annoyed that others regarded his work as having been doctored.  He wrote:

"When the Society next offers a medal for the best photography I hope, to save disputes, that they will lay down some rules so as to let competitors know how far they may go in this way of doctoring their pictures and when they must stop. 

PS.  I should like to know if Mr Smith printed his pictures himself - they look as if printed by Maxwell Lyte ..." 

 [Letter:  George Washington Wilson:  14 February 1859]



Here are some of the prices charged by photographers for copies of their prints in the exhibition:

-  John Moffat - 30 photos at 5/- each + 3 frames at £5 5s 0d each.

-  Kenneth McLeay:  photos 10/- each;  painted £3 3 0d and
£4 4 0d each.

-  James Mudd:  5 prints at 5/- and 6/- each.

-  J Lyndon Smith, Leeds:  5/- small;  8/- large.

-  G W Wilson:  Stereoscopic 1/6 each;  others 5/- and 6/- each.

-  A Claudet - not for sale

“Photographs sent were merely for the purpose of Exhibition or Specimens, and not for sale.  Indeed I could not sell copies of either of the portraits without the permission of the owners as it would  be quite contrary to my custom to do so." 

 [A Claudet letter:]  


Henry Peach Robinson

Henry Peach Robinson's photographs sold particularly well.  He sold:

-  December 1858:    27 photographs for £7 15s 0d.

-  March 1859:            32 photographs for £6 14s 6d.

These two sales included several small studies at 3/- each and:

-    3 x Fading Away                @ 15/- each

-    3 x They Never Told           @   5/- each

-  14 x Red Riding Hood           @   5/- each

'Fading Away'

Fading Away  -  Henry Peach Robinson

©  The Royal Photographic Society, Bath, England.  web site
Also reproduced in The Practical Photographer, March 1995.

This is one of the photographs for sale at the 3rd PSS Exhibition.  It shows a girl with consumption.  It caused controversy in Victorian times, until it was realised that it was a staged scene and not reality.

The National Library of Scotland has a catalogue of the 3rd PSS Exhibition.



 Fading Away       Somebody's Coming       Here They Come




Other Photographs in Exhibitions


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